IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Adult BMI as a Health and Nutritional Inequality Measure: Applications at Macro and Micro Levels


  • Molini, Vasco
  • Nubé, Maarten
  • van den Boom, Bart


Summary We explore the suitability of the adult Body Mass Index (BMI) to measure health and nutritional inequalities between and within households. The paper applies a macro analysis comparing female BMIs at the country level and a micro-analysis comparing females' and males' BMI in Vietnam. At macro level, we estimated an analogue of the Kuznets curve finding a U-shaped relation between development (Human Development Index) and health and nutritional inequality (female BMI). At micro level, we use the panel data characteristics of the Vietnam dataset and show how income improvements registered in the 1990s benefited males considerably more than females.

Suggested Citation

  • Molini, Vasco & Nubé, Maarten & van den Boom, Bart, 2010. "Adult BMI as a Health and Nutritional Inequality Measure: Applications at Macro and Micro Levels," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1012-1023, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:38:y:2010:i:7:p:1012-1023

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angus Deaton, 2006. "Global Patterns of Income and Health: Facts, Interpretations, and Policies," NBER Working Papers 12735, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Molini, Vasco & Nube, Maarten, 2007. "Is the Nutritional Status of Males and Females Equally Affected by Economic Growth? Evidence from Vietnam in the 1990s," WIDER Working Paper Series 054, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Ingrid Woolard & Stephan Klasen, 2005. "Determinants of Income Mobility and Household Poverty Dynamics in South Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(5), pages 865-897.
    4. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi & Bouis, Howarth, 1995. "Intrahousehold Inequality at Different Welfare Levels: Energy Intake and Energy Expenditure Data from the Philippines," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(3), pages 389-409, August.
    5. Anand, Sudhir & Sen, Amartya, 2000. "Human Development and Economic Sustainability," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2029-2049, December.
    6. White, Howard & Masset, Edoardo, 2002. "Child poverty in Vietnam: using adult equivalence scales to estimate income-poverty for different age groups," MPRA Paper 777, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Moradi, Alexander & Baten, Joerg, 2005. "Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Data and New Insights from Anthropometric Estimates," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1233-1265, August.
    8. Erreygers, Guido, 2009. "Correcting the Concentration Index: A reply to Wagstaff," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 521-524, March.
    9. David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2009. "Measuring intra‐household health inequality: explorations using the body mass index," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S1), pages 13-36, April.
    10. Micklewright, John & Ismail, Suraiya, 2001. "What Can Child Anthropometry Reveal about Living Standards and Public Policy? An Illustration from Central Asia," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(1), pages 65-80, March.
    11. Ranis, Gustav & Stewart, Frances & Ramirez, Alejandro, 2000. "Economic Growth and Human Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 197-219, February.
    12. Osmani, Siddiq & Sen, Amartya, 2003. "The hidden penalties of gender inequality: fetal origins of ill-health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 105-121, January.
    13. Rasmus Heltberg, 2009. "Malnutrition, poverty, and economic growth," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S1), pages 77-88, April.
    14. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Watanabe, Naoko, 2003. "On decomposing the causes of health sector inequalities with an application to malnutrition inequalities in Vietnam," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 207-223, January.
    15. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1992. "Is There an Intrahousehold Kuznets Curve? Some Evidence from the Philippines," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 47(Supplemen), pages 77-93.
    16. John Creedy & Cath Sleeman, 2005. "Adult equivalence scales, inequality and poverty," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 51-81.
    17. Agnes R. Quisumbing & John A. Maluccio, 2003. "Resources at Marriage and Intrahousehold Allocation: Evidence from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and South Africa," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 65(3), pages 283-327, July.
    18. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Height, Health, and Inequality: The Distribution of Adult Heights in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 468-474, May.
    19. Nube, M., 2001. "Confronting Dietary Energy Supply with Anthropometry in the Assessment of Undernutrition Prevalence at the Level of Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 1275-1289, July.
    20. Garrett, James L. & Ruel, Marie T., 1999. "Are Determinants of Rural and Urban Food Security and Nutritional Status Different? Some Insights from Mozambique," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(11), pages 1955-1975, November.
    21. Cornia, Giovanni Andrea & Menchini, Leonardo, 2006. "Health Improvements and Health Inequality during the Last 40 Years," WIDER Working Paper Series 010, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    22. Pradhan, Menno & Sahn, David E. & Younger, Stephen D., 2003. "Decomposing world health inequality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 271-293, March.
    23. Baulch, Bob & Masset, Edoardo, 2003. "Do Monetary and Nonmonetary Indicators Tell the Same Story About Chronic Poverty? A Study of Vietnam in the 1990s," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 441-453, March.
    24. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 2007. "Absolute poverty measures for the developing world, 1981-2004," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4211, The World Bank.
    25. Anand, Sudhir & Kanbur, S. M. R., 1993. "The Kuznets process and the inequality--development relationship," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 25-52, February.
    26. Dasgupta, Partha, 1997. "Nutritional status, the capacity for work, and poverty traps," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 5-37, March.
    27. Erreygers, Guido, 2009. "Correcting the Concentration Index," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 504-515, March.
    28. Jha, Sailesh K., 1996. "The Kuznets curve: A reassessment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 773-780, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Headey, Derek D. & Hoddinott, John F., 2015. "Agriculture, nutrition, and the Green Revolution in Bangladesh:," IFPRI discussion papers 1423, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Judith A. Clarke & Ahmed A. Hoque, 2014. "On Variance Estimation for a Gini Coefficient Estimator Obtained from Complex Survey Data," Econometrics Working Papers 1401, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    3. Ramzi Mabsout, 2011. "Capability and Health Functioning in Ethiopian Households," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 101(3), pages 359-389, May.
    4. Bloom, David E. & Kuhn, Michael & Prettner, Klaus, 2015. "The contribution of female health to economic development," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 02/2015, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
    5. Cavaliere, Alessia & De Marchi, Elisa & Banterle, Alessandro, 2013. "Time Preference and Health: The Problem of Obesity," 2013 International European Forum, February 18-22, 2013, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 164754, International European Forum on Innovation and System Dynamics in Food Networks.
    6. Joan Costa-i-Font & Cristina Hernandez-Quevedo & Azusa Sato, 2013. "A 'Health Kuznets' Curve'? Cross-Country and Longitudinal Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 4446, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Martin Wittenberg, 2011. "The Weight of Success: The Body Mass Index and Economic Well-being in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 65, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:38:y:2010:i:7:p:1012-1023. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.